Polyamorous parents explain how they told their kids and loved ones about their non-traditional lifestyles

·3 min read
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5% of Americans at some point in their lives are involved in a non-monogamous relationship. Dougal Waters/Getty Images
  • Parents who are polyamorous, or engage romantically with more than one person at a time, often struggle to disclose their lifestyles to loved ones.

  • During a panel, three polyamorous parents explained how they told their parents and children about their relationship dynamic.

  • They said sitting with others' discomfort, focusing on the positives, and being genuine helped.

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Plenty of people fantasize about being in polyamorous or consensually non-monogamous relationships, where you're romantically involved with more than one person at a time.

But telling peers, loved ones, and your children about your polyamorous lifestyle can be a nerve-wracking experience.

During a recent virtual panel hosted by the polyamorous-friendly dating app Hashtag Open, parents in non-monogamous dynamics explained how they "came out" to the people closest to them, and how they deal with judgment about their love lives.

Accepting her parents' discomfort helped one polyamorous mom

Megan Bhatia, the creator and host of the podcast "Amory," said the anticipation of telling her parents about her polyamorous lifestyle was scarier than the actual moment.

After divulging her secret, Bhatia realized it was her mindset that mattered most.

"What I learned in retrospect is just trusting that they could handle it, and to sit with their discomfort, like it wasn't my job to own how they felt," Bhatia said during the panel.

Instead of becoming defensive, Bhatia reminded herself that her parents' concerns and worries were how they showed love for her.

Bhatia said it's an ongoing conversation and some moments are easier than others.

When she does have a difficult moment, she asked herself, "Can I hold a space for my parents? They don't understand this. This is not their lived experience. Can I still love them and accept them as they are, even if they don't fully understand and accept me?"

When speaking with skeptical family member, Bhatia said she reminds herself that polyamory is about redefining societal expectations around love.

Focusing on the community aspect of polyamorous parenting can help skeptics become believers

Discussing the positives of a polyamorous lifestyle helps skeptics understand the allure, Mariana Ellery, the author of the children's book "A Color Named Love," said during the panel.

Ellery and her partners moved in with two polyamorous friends outside of their relationship. When she told her mother, she focused on the increased child support she'd have for their children.

She compared her living situation to a family where grandparents, parents, and children live under one roof.

"I think [the children are] going to feel much more taken care of, because if I don't have time to do something, I'm not going to be burned out or that stressed, because I have so much more people share," Ellery said while on the panel.

One parent said her children have been more understanding than adults

Some polyamorous parents have told their children about their lifestyles.

Rebecca Woolf, a freelance writer, filmmaker, and book author, said her children still find her boring despite her non-traditional approach to love.

To start the conversation, Woolf told them she didn't believe in monogamy, and then defined the term for them.

Then, she told them, "I am going to date. I'm going to go out with people. I will tell you as much, or as little as you want to know about who I'm going out with and what I'm doing, obviously age appropriately."

According to Woolf, her children have never voiced confusion over her choice.

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